Jimmy Garoppolo, Jimmie Ward, Mike McGlinchey — three prominent free agents from the San Francisco 49ers. None are anticipated to be the first decision for a renewed deal from the Niners.
So who will it be by Wednesday, March 15 when the NFL free agency signing period and kickoff of the 2023 league calendar year officially begins for the 49ers?
Per 49ers insider Matt Maiocco on Friday, March 10 on the Papa and Crowley Show on KNBR, he dove into not only the first position group the 49ers are expected to address, but the longtime insider/columnist additionally revealed which 49ers free agent qualifies as the “first decision” of this 2023 class.
Maiocco already believes the defensive line will be first priority, saying “if it’s not the first position they address, it will be the position they address the most.” Maiocco added: “They like to have 10, 11, 12 guys who are NFL players at that position, and all those guys can play.”
But next is who is the player the 49ers are deciding on first? Maiocco said the 49ers will head to the edge rush room for that one.
“This first decision will be what to do with Charles Omenihu, the edge rusher opposite from Nick Bosa who had a career year but is also facing domestic violence allegations. Depending on how that situation plays out, he could be a player who is back in the Red & Gold next year,” Maiocco said.
Omenihu was arrested on a domestic violence allegation in San Jose on January 25 per the Bay Area News Group — which was during the week leading up to the NFC title game versus the Philadelphia Eagles. He was on the field for 38 defensive plays in the 31-7 loss to the Eagles, recording one solo tackle.
Omenihu Part of Long List of UFA Defensive Linemen
Omenihu is among six defensive linemen — four from the edge rush department — who are in the UFA category.
Given the depth concerns of the position, Maiocco still believes Omenihu will be a priority for the 49ers’ front office.
“They don’t have too many of those guys under contract, so probably one of the moves is trying to figure out what’s going on with Charles Omenihu,” Maiocco said. “If things are looking good there on a legal front, that’s a guy the 49ers would certainly want to have back. He put enough good film out there that he could get some attention.”
Omenihu delivered a career-high 20 tackles, 16 QB hits and 4.5 sacks in his first full season as a 49er, after coming over via the midseason 2021 trade by the Houston Texans.
Insider Rules Out One DL
Meanwhile, Maiocco is anticipating that one valuable pass rusher from the 49ers’ front line the past two seasons has played his final game in a 49ers uniform: Samson Ebukam.
“I think they need to upgrade,” Maiocco said. “They need to upgrade the defensive end, the edge rusher on the other side, to be able take advantage of the things that Nick Bosa brings to the team, including being the guy who attracts all the attention.”
Ebukam is at the end of his two-year, $12 million deal with the 49ers. And after coming over from the rival Los Angeles Rams, Ebukam went on to deliver 9.5 sacks in both campaigns with the Niners — with a career-best five coming in 2022. He also delivered seven tackles for a loss, another career high.
He’s being projected for a three-year, $23.295 million deal ($7.7 million annually) with his next deal per Spotrac.